Contact me at: or by phone 204.878.2524

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Lots of stuff goes on in this shop, located in Lorette, Manitoba.

Primarily it's the building and repair of classic wood & canvas canoes, and the making of premium canoe paddles. I also do custom boat building, composite fabrication, and special projects. A growing passion of mine is the making of classical guitars, I'll post about that, too.

I want to be able to share with my clients the progress of their commissioned work. Later I started thinking that there might be other people who are interested in what goes on inside a wooden canoe shop operated by an artist and a recovering teacher.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email, phone, or by post. My mailing address is:

Red River Canoe & Paddle
24249 River Rd
Lorette, Manitoba
R5K 0Z6

Friday 21 December 2012

As this is a canoe shop, here is where I am at with the current canoe restoration projects.  The Huron is complete, needing only its stem bands to be installed.  The Chestnut Bob's Special has been varnished, canvassed, filled, gunnels back on, trim varnished, and two base coats of primer applied.  All it needs is finish colour coats, final varnish on trim, and seats and thwart put back in.

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Awhile back a local musician asked me to make up a fiberglass flight case for his guitar.  For many years Calton Cases out of Calgary had been the "go-to" case for travelling musicians.  Sadly, with new ownership, quality and customer service tanked.  So with this in mind, the request came in.  You can see the Calton case at the bottom of this post.

I decided to simplify the shape for a variety of reasons, partly construction, but also providing more interior space within the same overall size.  I also decided to make it glass over foam, in this case 1/2" Pink insulation foam.  The inside will be glassed as well making it a foam core structure.  The foam is glued together with regular woodworking glue.  While not a very strong joint, it is strong enough to hold it while sanding and glassing.  The foam is kerfed where it needs to bend around the corners.  Simple packing tape is enough for clamping.

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After a lot of research on the current offerings of sanders, I decided that my new work horse sander would be the Bosch 1250DEVS.  However, the best price that I could find in Canada was $365.  The very same sander is being sold in the US at $230.  Go figure.  I have no idea how the difference in price is justified.

Anyway, as we are planning a week trip to Minneapolis between Christmas and New Year, I decided to pick one up while travelling.  However...I still needed a sander right away as both my main sander and the stand-by had packed it in.  So I picked up this Bosch ROS10, and for $79 its a great little sander.  Little vibration, easy to control, good dust collection via either the little filter or hook up to a shop-vac.  If you need an affordable sander, I have no hessitation in recommending this one, but go for the ROS20 variable speed if its your only sander.  Same unit, but variable speed.

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I use my sander extensively in my work, and it works hard.  My trusty old Porter-Cable 7336 packed it in a couple of weeks ago and I had to rely upon a little Ryobi that I picked up a few years ago as a standby.  This Ryobi is not really up to the task of real shop work and it was not very precisein its handling.  But it worked just well enough to cover until I could replace my PC sander.

That is, until its bearings seized up!  Nothing quite like being dead in the water.

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Another Nova Craft gunnel replacement.  I used the typical Nova Craft approach of the outer gunnel overlapping the inner.  I also sealed the inner faces to help protect against rot.  Every bit helps.

Yet another perfect example as to why dry storage is the best thing for your canoe.  This one lived outside all year long.

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Some of you may remember my last year's attempt at keeping some tomatoe plants from the garden over the winter.  Well, this year instead of transplanting some of the garden plants into pots and bring various bugs into the house, we just kept these ones in pots since planting so that they could stay in the house instead of the shop.

I won't claim to be an expert, but initial results are promising. At least there is fruit!

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Thursday 6 December 2012

One of the two old planes that I've been cleaning and fixing was missing the screw that holds  the front of the handle.  Searching for a replacement, upon reccomendation, I came across this bit of history:

Its a fascinating read about the history of industrial machining standarization over the last 150 years.

Stanely, in all of their wisdom, chose to continue using an obsolete screw size/thread count combination for a good number of years.  Simply put, if you have on of these old planes and its missing the screw, you cannot just go to you local hardware store and buy a replacement.

Thanks to the connections that I have been able to make over the years using the internet, I received a replacement screw and the old plane is now complete and ready for action.

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Friday 30 November 2012

The Chestnut Bob's Special in canvas, and then in filler.  Time to get the trim cleaned up and installed.

In the back you can see the Huron awaiting its trim. Currently, the Huron has its trim on with two coats of varnish, and the keel is on.  All that is left is another coat or two fo varnish, install the seats and thwarts, and paint the hull.

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Friday 16 November 2012

Last week as "Bring your kid to work" day for my youngest daughter's school. She didn't really want to go to my work as she's basically grown up with it-so what would be new? But she came anyway and did some canoe restoration work, some cleaning, and some tool sharpening.

She also snapped one of the few photos of me in my shop-I'm usually on the other side of the camera!  So, here I am with the Chestnut Bob's Special with the first of its two re-coats of varnish done, and the Huron awaiting its new canvas.

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I canvassed the Huron last Friday, and as I was cleaning up my filler brush, I realized just how much use this old brush has had to do.  I thought that i looked pretty cool, so here it is!

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After cleaning up the old Stanley 5 1/2, I felt inspired to turn my attentions to an even older 5 1/2C (C for corrugated bottom).  The 5 1/2C is the one in the forground of each photo.

So, some sanding, some stripping of old paint splatters, welding up a serious crack in the bed, and unbending a bent iron, the old plane looks pretty good!

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Tuesday 6 November 2012

After the giant job of getting the old freighter canoe rejuvenated, it is refreshing to have canoes in the shop that are in reasonable condition.  Currently I have a 16' Huron that has just had two refresher coats of varnish applied to the interior and a 15' Chestnut "Bob's Special" about to be opened up for the same treatment.  Shortly they will both be re-canvassed, filled, painted, etc. The Huron is waiting a bit as the planking dried and shrank slightly while in the shop, I put it outside in the humid fall air to swell up a bit before I applied the linseed oil on the outside of the hull.

Also seen is the "S" shaped coffee table that I am working on for my recroom.  I've been building the paint finish, it is now ready for final hand sanding and edge veneer, then I'll varnish over everything.  I am still in negotiations with my wife about cutting down these fine period table legs to coffee table height.  They came from an old end table that she still has some sentimental attchment to.

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I rough carved the front of the viola da gamba for my wife. The nice thing about bent stave construction is that the top's shape is pretty much already done and I just need to blend the curves. The light was nice Friday morning making a nice photo showing the little Ibex plane and shavings.

The carved viol top looks something like this. next step is to cut and inlay the purflings.

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I found this Baily 5 1/2 hand plane at a local old stuff store, got it for $8. I would have paid the $10 asking price but I felt like making a low offer. It is sitting beside my trusty block plane to show scale. Yes, it is pretty rusty and needs some good TLC!

Here is the same plane after this mornings ministrations. I expect to get a lot of use out of this old workhorse! Cleaned up real nice.

Wondering if I should do more...repaint the bed, sand and re-varnish the tote and horn...won't make it work better, just look "nicer". As it is it really has a "been there, done that." kind of look which has a certain value. I think that I'll leave it alone. Life is too short to get hung up and precious about these sorts of things. This plane has work to do!  
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Wednesday 31 October 2012

Having finished the two kevlar canoe repairs requiring gunnel replacement, I am now working on yet another Huron?Bastien Brothers/Big Chief canoe.  This one is not too bad, actually.  Opened her up, 4 rib repairs, stem repair, sanding and two coats of fresh varnish, re-canvas, paint, etc.  Pretty straight forward for a change.
But that's not what I want to show here!
Tadaa! Two demi-globes successfully made!

Now to turn my attention to the screens. I had thought of laying in random strand but then thought about drilling them in another globe screen made for the front. So I drilled some test holes in the sample piece that I had made in order to test my mold and fabrication process. Three sizes of holes. I just aligned these by eye just to see how it looks and how strong the shell would remain. At this point my son is still trying to talk me into making authentic style aluminium shells. He has no idea how much work that would entail, especially as it isn't him that would be doing it!

So, how to drill all those myriad holes in a pattern? Some head scratching all weekend provided me with this idea. A drill in an old drill/drill press tool, that I had inherited from my father-in-law and couldn't throw out, is mounted on a pivot allowing the drill to arc around the globe, which in turn will be mounted on a disc which rotates on a centre pin. I'm still working on this, not quite done, but enough for you to get the idea.

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